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FROM SAK TO CHIK: AN ESSAY ON CLASSICAL LEADERSHIP FAILURE By UMAR ARDO, Ph.D

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In 2015, the campaign slogan of APC’s presidential candidate, Mohammadu Buhari, was ‘APC SAK’.

By this, Buhari was urging the electorate, especially of Northern Nigeria, to vote APC all through from top to bottom. In return, he promised that the ensuing APC government he would head will solve the teething problems of the country.

Specifically, he named economy, insecurity and corruption as priority areas. From one campaign lecture to the other, the APC presidential candidate was hard on the PDP, accusing the then governing party of destroying the fabric of the Nigerian society in its 16 years rule. Understandably, majority of the electorate believed him and, particularly the electorate of Northern Nigeria (except for the lone state of Taraba), voted ‘APC SAK’.

At the return of all election results, APC won the presidency, 24 state governors and almost 2/3 seats in the National and State Assemblies. Thus, Buhari was elected president; and by that, Nigerians had fulfilled their own side of the social contract. Having been installed to power, it is then the turn of President Buhari, as head of the APC regime, to fulfill the promises made to the Nigerian electorate.

But more than seven years in office, with less than a year to go, it is clear that the President Buhari-led APC Administration has failed to fulfill its core promises. The facts are indisputable.

To start with, the economy has not improved; rather, it virtually collapsed. The national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), representing the total value of all economic activities in the country, has nosed-dived and remained down, pushing the country into almost a state of permanent recession. With the value of the naira plummeting to an exchange rate of N610 to $1 today, and the resulting inflation sending many Nigerians below poverty line into state of deprivation and destitution, Nigeria is pronounced the poverty capital of the world.

On insecurity, the situation is no better. In fact, like the economy, things have gone from bad to worse. Not only that the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency is still rampaging, pillaging and killing like never before, thus belying government’s claims of ‘technically defeating’ the terrorist group, but also the group has grown in power and influence, transforming into what is now known as The Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP). From its main base in the Lake Chad region, ISWAP has intensified its fierce and deadly guerrilla war, carving a territory to itself, setting up governance, imposing levies and taxes, facilitating commerce and cultivating support among local inhabitants.

In addition, banditry, kidnappings, internecine communal genocides, cultism, highway robberies, militancy, and violence of unimaginable propositions have become common phenomena in virtually all states of the federation, overwhelming the country’s security system.

To all intents and purposes, nobody and nowhere is safe as there is practically no governance in all rural communities across the country. Recognizing this fact, many communities and states of the country had to establish their own local militias and security units to protect themselves. Consequently, Nigeria is ranked No.3 on the list of world’s most terrorized nations.

The same failure is as well evident in the fight against corruption. With the appointment of Ibrahim Magu, the head of the EFCC, the key anti-corruption agency, in contravention of the law, the fight against corruption started on a wrong footing.

On account of security reports accusing him of corruption, thus denting his moral integrity to prosecute the war, the senate declined to confirm his nomination as required by law. Still, the president put him in office for about five years, thus calling to question the sincerity of the administration’s commitment to fight corruption. Not surprisingly, Magu himself ended up being further accused by his supervising minister, Abubakar Malami, of re-looting recovered corruption loots and ignominiously removed from office. In effect, the twin evils of bribery and corruption continued to thrive unabated under the Buhari-led APC regime. Hence, all over the country, persons on corruption allegations and charges are roaming about free. Many have even bribed themselves back into public offices either in elective or appointive capacities.

There are also widespread outrageous opened displays of stupendous wealth by several serving public officers, the president’s family members and close associates, hitherto living from hand to mouth, suggesting corrupt enrichments within the new government. Nigeria today is ranked as world’s fourth corrupt nation on the index of Transparency International.

Aside from these core issues, there are also many other aspects of our national life that have similarly deteriorated under the Buhari administration, principal of which is ethical decay. What is morally wrong, has today become politically right. Hence, public operators, elective, appointive and bureaucratic, have become society’s nouveau rich and being celebrated for that. One needs not list instances, for they are endless!

For a regime that promised so much and delivered so little on all scores, the bloom, as botanists would say, is well off the roses in its garden.
This dismal failure to deliver, in my opinion, is as a result of six major failings in leadership.

First, there is incapacity to provide strong and decisive leadership by President Buhari himself. Even though the regime’s apologists would tend to blame these failings on the enormity of the misdeeds of past regimes, or the dislocated structures of our society, the real reason is lack of leadership’s firmness, confidence and direction from the president. Almost any problem can be successfully resolved if there is effective leadership at the top. All that is required is the force of personal leadership, and this is manifestly lacking in President Buhari.

After nearly six years on the saddle, a clearer pattern of the president’s leadership style is deducible. He can rightly be termed as a passive leader – one who allows problems to solve themselves, refusing to intervene even when it is absolutely necessary!

Given that problems don’t solve themselves, it ultimately requires direction and prodding of the leadership. Principles and practices of good leadership demand for one dominant unifying purpose – i.e. to facilitate clear decisions and enable prompt, efficient execution of those decisions!

Yes, some degree of collective decision-making of the cabinet on critical national issues is necessary, but such collective decisions still need a single leading mind that keeps close control and supervision of the overall strategic objectives and direction of government. This entails the leader taking full charge and responsibility for the act and outcome of whatever events government sets in motion. Where this is lacking then there is a problem. And this is simply absent in President Buhari’s leadership.

Second, even in organizing for collective decisions, President Buhari exhibits another serious leadership deficit. Over the years, it became all too clear that there is lack of harmony and coordination among the various segments and agencies of the executive organ headed by him. There have been conflicts and acrimony among members of the government that affected the regime’s general output.

In all these, the president prefers to let his appointees thrash out issues and settle differences and disagreements themselves, with minimum or no intervention from him. This is a wrong approach to leadership, as harmony and cooperation are bench phrases for a successful government, the role of the leader in ensuring this condition is essential.

Third, President Buhari seems to have little value for ideas and innovations. The essence of collective decision-making in a government is to aggregate various ideas from cabinet members with a view to evolving the best policy option for problems at hand. As we all know, there are plenty of good ideas out there if only they can be listened to and harnessed into use by the leadership. But the president has proven to be a non-listening leader.

This explains his rebuffing of all genuine and well-meaning calls on him to amend his ways on certain national issues. He even alienated ideas of his key appointees through his misconceived directive to his Cabinet Ministers to pass through his Chief of Staff in dealing, communicating and meeting with him. Needless to say, this is a bureaucratic process that will deliver nothing but mediocrity. A serious leader must evaluate and guide firsthand the initiatives of his appointees.

In a situation where another appointee becomes responsible for evaluating and deciding on policy initiatives of other appointees, not only an unnecessary bureaucratic bottleneck is created but the process also diminishes the zeal, confidence and energy of the appointee concerned, ultimately hindering the general policy outputs of government. Naturally, this lack of direct evaluation and guidance of the president on the initiatives of his appointees will render the government slow, weak and bankrupt in ideas, and in policy formulation and implementation. Consequently, nothing will be properly or usefully designed and decided, as all initiatives and energy are paralyzed. Under such a situation nothing much can be achieved.

Fourth, whatever efforts put forth by other members of the government are mired in confusion from the outset owing chiefly to lack of good understanding of the real issues at play, thereby resulting in poor policy options and choices. The reason being that most of the personnel appointed do not fit the offices they occupy. Sourcing the right personnel to occupy key offices of government is no doubt important, but the refinement of the personnel to fit the offices they are assigned to is even more important.

To this end, sufficient thought ought to be given in matching the character of the individual appointee with the demands of the office assigned to him or her. In this, President Buhari also failed measurably. A purposeful leadership must always have its policy makers strive to conceive and implement new initiatives so as to create and maintain positive momentum for the government. And this can only happen if the right persons hold the right offices.

The fifth failing in President Buhari’s leadership style is temporization. The president hardly takes decision on virtually every issue. In fact, it looks as if the president hates taking decisions at all until compelled to do so. We have seen that in him time and again on even the most serious issues, including the formation of his cabinet, acting on corruption allegations against his appointees, changing his Service Chiefs, injecting capable hands into government, etc. Not that long period of procrastination necessarily gives cause to taking right decisions, or decisiveness leads to taking bad decisions, but temporization is hardly a virtue in the books of leadership.

In fact, as the saying goes, the more easy it is for a leader to do nothing, the harder it is for him to achieve anything. A good leader must be decisive; he must abhor procrastination, temporization and equivocation. A critical virtue of an effective leader is ‘to ponder, then act and take full responsibility’. We have seen this virtue in President Obasanjo; for whatever may be said of Obasanjo’s leadership faults, he was undoubtedly, to his eternal credit, at least a decisive leader. President Buhari is not!

Sixth, arising from all the above, there is lack of strategic imagination on the need to and ways of breaking out of this stalemate. These latter failings are directly related to the first – leadership failure at the top!

These manifest deficiencies, other than bringing the country to a complete halt (Chik), are both unsuited to the active requirements of a country in dire need of peace, economic growth and political stability, and uninspiring, discouraging and disappointing to zealous and devoted politicians, intellectuals, bureaucrats, patriotic citizens, etc. who are eager to see Nigeria leap forward into a developed world in the 21st century.

I concede, however, that consequences of leadership failure may vary with the severity of the situation on ground. If, for example, institutions in the polity are strong and social conditions fairly stable, like in the United States, leadership failure may not be so disastrous.

We have just seen that in President Donald Trump’s leadership failures. But if the polity is weak with fragile institutions, demanding drastic changes and innovations to fix, like the Nigerian situation now and in 2015, under such circumstances, failure to provide strong, visionary and inspirational leadership to actively lead the country through the needed changes would be catastrophic.

But in both instances, leadership failure erodes a key characteristic of effective governance – trust! Good leadership creates conditions of trust by making clear mission and achieving it. Failures therefore erode people’s trust and make it impossible for the leader to succeed. Therefore, without a drastic change on the part of citizens against their condescending attitudes to such leadership failings, I am afraid will continue wobbling till it crashes to the ground.

And Buhari’s presidency will be for Nigeria just another eight years of squandered time and resources that offered no solutions for salvaging the country, redeeming and securing her future. The regime will be, as Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher, would say, “like a cloud that passes on without dropping rain”.

This is where SAK has brought us all to – CHIK!

*** Opinions expressed in this article do not represent the views of SunriseNigeria, but wholly of the writer.

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Opinion

Ali Bello: The Unseen Architect of Progress in Yahaya Bello’s Legendary Administration

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By Joseph Ikani

In the tapestry of Governor Yahaya Bello’s legendary administration in Kogi State, one name resonates quietly yet profoundly—Ali Bello. A technocrat and administrative virtuoso, Ali Bello has been the invisible force behind the scenes, steering numerous successes that have defined the state’s transformative journey.

As Governor Yahaya Bello’s administration concludes on January 27, 2024, it leaves behind a legacy marked by a plethora of infrastructure and overall development in Kogi State. However, the first term, spanning from 2015 to 2019, was not without challenges. Heavy criticism emerged as the populace eagerly awaited the tangible dividends of democracy. While Governor Bello was fervently committed to infrastructural and rural development, his ideas faced resistance from some once-trusted allies and members of his administration. The divergence in priorities became apparent, with the governor emphasising infrastructure while others leaned towards human capital development and political empowerment.

The turning point came with the intense campaign for Governor Bello’s second term in 2019, a victory that solidified his commitment to the state’s progress. As the whistle blew for his second term, ongoing projects were swiftly completed, and new ones emerged, transforming the state’s landscape. Key projects such as the establishment of Confluence University of Science and Technology in Osara, the construction of the Ganaja flyover, the establishment of ultramodern general hospitals in Gegu and Isanlu, and the expansion of the general hospital in Idah to a zonal hospital began to take shape. At the heart of the execution of these monumental projects was the hands-on involvement of Ali Bello.

Governor Yahaya Bello, CON

One remarkable example is the construction of the Ganaja flyover, a project initially rejected by Governor Bello due to its high contract cost. The previous administration had awarded the flyover project at a staggering cost of over ten billion naira. It was Ali Bello and his adept negotiating skills that secured TEC Engineering Construction Company a more cost-effective deal, expanding the project beyond its previous design. The governor himself acknowledged that, without Ali, the construction of the flyover would have remained an unattainable feat.

While other associates of the governor were visibly present around him and within the government house vicinity, Ali Bello stood out by being ubiquitous at all project sites, spanning from Kogi East to Central and West. His relentless commitment, aimed at ending the era of subpar execution of contracts, became the driving force behind the state’s development.

This article aims to shed light on the unsung hero, Ali Bello, clarifying that any antagonistic disposition towards Governor Yahaya Bello’s first tenure was not out of malice but a genuine desire for the well-being of the people. As a staunch observer of the state’s affairs, it is imperative to commend those who positively influenced the change in governance. Ali Bello emerges not only as a catalyst for progress but also as a misunderstood figure. In his quest for transparent spending on people-centric projects, Ali became an inadvertent target of hatred and animosity, facing malicious victimisation, orchestrated plots, and accusations. Despite the adversity, Ali Bello’s diligent work, passion for excellence, and genuine dedication to the well-being of the people have played a pivotal role in the progress that Kogi State has achieved under Governor Yahaya Bello’s visionary leadership.

* Joseph Ikani, Ph.D.
is at the Centre for Public Accountability, Abuja
akinjoe1979@yahoo.com

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Opinion

ON BETTA EDU AND TUNDE IRUKERA

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* By Tunde Olusunle, PhD, FANA

Two notable events hallmarked January 8, 2024, the very first Monday post-yuletide this new year. Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu suspended Betta Chimaobim Edu, the young medical doctor who hitherto served as Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation. She was fingered in inexcusable financial infractions which ran counter to public service rules and procedures. In the second instance, the President disengaged from office Babatunde Ayokunle Irukera, the urbane attorney and executive vice chairman of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, (FCCPC). Alexander Okoh, director-general of the Bureau for Public Enterprises, (BPE), was also relieved of his appointment, same day. In different ways and to differing extents, I know Edu and Irukera, respectively.

I first met Edu late 2018 in Port Harcourt, immediately after the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP) national convention which produced Nigeria’s charismatic former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as presidential flagbearer. The little-known Edu found her way to *Intels Camp,* an idyllic, oasis in the bedlam of the capital of the oil-bearing state, where Atiku’s delegates and political strategists were quartered. An amiable extrovert, she spontaneously cultivated friendships with some of us on that occasion. She desired a role in the presidential campaign, so she clung to us literally, for inclusion as politicking gathered steam ahead of the 2019 elections.

I visited Calabar not too long after. I was detailed on a specific assignment to Cross River State by the headquarters of the PDP. Edu was Special Adviser to Benedict Ayade, the professor governor of the state on Community and Primary Healthcare. She graciously assigned a car to me to move me around in the course of my visit. I had always longed to visit *Tinapa resort,* the baby of Donald Duke the first democratically elected governor of Cross River State, this fourth republic, conceived to recalibrate trade and economic activity in the nation’s South South. That 2018 visit provided a perfect opportunity and inspired a very despondent poem which features in my most recent volume ofpoetry, *A Medley Of Echoes.* Edu was quite helpful.

Edu and I were in touch from time to time thereafter. She excitedly shared video clips of her screening by the senate for confirmation as minister last year. I acknowledged them and wished her every luck. In our previous engagements, she had always expressed preference for a health portfolio, ostensibly because of her professional background. That was the last time I heard from Edu! One will need to interrogate the nexus between people’s previous personas, vis-a-vis the spontaneity of office-induced metamorphosis and heightened hubris. I’ve observed a trend over the years such that further scrutiny has become imperative. Like I always tell those who ask me why I don’t jump upon presumably well entrenched friends when they are in high public office, the point is that I have a “bad habit.” I won’t be found lounging on the corridors or waiting rooms of any friend in public office at whatever level, if we cannot have a telephone conversation and firm up an appointment.

An eminent and adulated public officer like George Akume, former governor, senator, minister and now Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), returns people’s calls. How about Enyinnaya Abaribe, former deputy governor, high ranking senator and institutional memory of Nigeria’s parliament. Nobody therefore should consider himself too big or important to get back to people, and reach out. The immediate predecessor to John Owan Enoh, the sports minister, used to be my friend, or so I thought. He dragged me to sit with him on the high table at a post-inauguration reception hosted in his honour at the Transcorp Hilton, same day in 2019. His transformation thereafter was such that I never asked for the direction to his office all through his four years as minister! A Yoruba proverb pointedly enjoins us to be intentionally self-respecting so we can be reciprocally adulated.

Irukera and I knew each other by reputation for decades before we finally met. We lived with our parents and siblings in Ilorin the Kwara State capital over time, but never met. He was indeed at the Federal Government College, (FGC), at the same time with one of my siblings at some point, while I was at the University of Ilorin. On one of his visits to Abuja well before his appointment to the headship of the erstwhile Consumer Protection Council, (CPC), he insisted on meeting “this elder brother with whom he shares so many attributes.” We were both born in Kaduna at different times and bear the same name, “Babatunde” which in Yoruba lore presupposes that we are reincarnations of one of grandfathers, paternal or maternal. We are both Yagba from Okunland in Kogi State, and proud alumni of the University of Ilorin. We would further discover that we both got married same day, same month, same year! And so he visited first time and again, ever volunteering to be the one who visits more in deference to his older brother. This was until I insisted on knowing his place, so as to mitigate the “scores” if we were playing a game of football.

Betta Edu is on a yellow card for now relative to the ongoing inquest into her role in a bouquet of financial malfeasance, less than five months in office. While there is a broadsheet of untoward heist perpetrated under her watch, the fact of her approval to the effect that about N600 million be paid into the personal account of one of her proxies is on the front burner. The internet has been throwing up records of Edu’s activities during her stint in office. Her “testimony to answered prayers” at the December 2023 of the mammoth *Shiloh* prayer convention of Bishop David Oyedepo’s Living Faith Church is trending. Edu’s exhibitionist rocking and revelry alongside her “big girl” associates are also in the clouds. The irrepressible, dart-throwing Shehu Sani, former legislator and public engager has indeed applauded Tinubu’s decisiveness in promptly taking out Edu. He doesn’t miss the chance to take a swipe at the president’s predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, who could only *ashuwa* Nigerians in every instance, never, ever able to act resolutely.

Last December, *Leadership* newspapers one of Nigeria’s respected tabloids named Irukera’s FCCPC “Government Agency of the Year.” The organisation was so recognised for “promoting fairness, regulatory stability and consumer protection within the marketplace.” Irukera was applauded for pursuing “a transformative journey in reshaping and rebranding the CPC, into a proactive and consumer-centric FCCPC.” *Leadership* posited further: “Irukera’s oversight of the commission’s transformation and operationalisation beginning from January 30, 2019,” has been a game-changer. He was credited with his “unwavering dedication to fostering a dynamic and responsive regulatory environment and recorded numerous milestones across diverse sectors including healthcare, digital finance and electricity.” The tabloid noted that “one standout accomplishment is the strategic development and implementation of the “Patient’s Bill of Rights,” among a host of other plaudits.

Irukera hosted a media engagement on the eve of Christmas where he disclosed that the FCCPC had weaned itself off from government funding and was now self-sustaining. According to him, rather than draw from the federal till, the FCCPC indeed remitted N22 Billion to the federation account! Irukera volunteered at that encounter that 90 per cent of the internal revenue generation, (IGR) of FCCPC came by way of enforcement of payment of penalties by defaulting companies. In a milieu where many government funded establishments overdraw their allocations, expend their IGR and go cap-in-hand for supplementation, the FCCPC generated N56 Billion last year out of which N22 Billion was remitted to the federal treasury. Such has been the quantum transmogrification of the FCCPC under Irukera, who inherited an IGR of N154 million in his first year in office in 2017.

There are insinuations to the effect that Irukera has been so treated because of his relationship with former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a professor of law and senior advocate of Nigeria, (SAN), who was instrumental to his appointment in 2017. Osinbajo and Irukera were partners in a Lagos-based law firm. Osinbajo contested in the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), in June 2022, which was won by Tinubu. Even before both men met at the ballot at the *Eagle Square,* Abuja, Tinubu never disguised his disaffection towards Osinbajo his own protege, who dared run against him. Osinbajo served as attorney general of Lagos State under Tinubu when the latter was governor from 1999 to 2007. Tinubu also threw Osinbajo up as running mate to Buhari after the APC presidential primary in December 2014.

Irukera is grateful for the opportunity to have served Nigeria’s “incredibly vibrant and loyal consumers.” He is glad to leave behind “a strong institutional advocate in the FCCPC and an outstanding team of soldiers who work there daily for the cause of fair markets.” Irukera offered transparent leadership at the FCCPC, took bold and daring steps, made far-reaching decisions and achieved much in the Commission’s mandate to protect the consuming public from unfair practices. He fearlessly brought to their knees, otherwise powerful local and international companies infringing on consumer rights and made them accountable. Such is the sterling legacy Irukera is leaving in FCCPC, a hitherto little-known government concern.

The period of Betta Edu’s suspension should serve as one to holistically rethink the whole concept of the Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation ministry; the National Social Investment Programme Agency, (NSIPA), and their affiliates. Since their emergence under the Buhari administration, they have been fraught with allegations of mindless thievery and mammoth fraud. From Sadiya Umar-Farouk who pioneered the ministry under Buhari; through Halima Shehu the NSIPA chief executive who was recently dismissed by Tinubu and now Betta Edu, the rancid smell of fiscal cannibalism, chokes. Nigeria’s commonwealth to the tune of N88 Billion is alleged to have been fleeced by these three.

Truth is that all the so-called poverty alleviation and empowerment archetypes have only provided for the colossal bleeding of the national wallet. The *tradermoni,* “public works programme” and “conditional cash transfer” among others, have been most dishonest in serving the interest of vulnerable groups. Who authenticates the number of individuals or households provided with tokens for poverty mitigation? The entire poverty tempering superstructure under its various aliases and nomenclature amount to a consolidated scam.

For his inimitable altruism and diligence in service to nation, for opening the eyes of government to the fact that state institutions can be transparently and profitably run, Irukera deserves proper recognition. People who apply themselves to service the way Irukera has should be invited for a handshake and photo opportunity with the President. On such an occasion, Tinubu should ask him to name a particular government department he hopes to help his “renewed hope” agenda. The National Productivity Centre, (NPC), and the Ministry of Special Duties should immediately list Irukera for applicable honours, as different from the Buhari “all comers” epoch.

*Tunde Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, scholar and author is a Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (ANA)*

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Opinion

MUSINGS ON NIGERIA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION

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The uneasy thing about Nigeria’s Independence Day celebration reminds me of Frederick Douglas’s thought-provoking speech which he delivered on the 4th of July, titled “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”. This famous and powerful address was made on July, 5, 1852. Douglas, an African American abolitionist and former slave questioned the hypocrisy of celebrating American independence and freedom while the black people were inhumanely treated under the shackles and manacles of slavery.

In that famous address, Douglas argued passionately that the celebration of freedom and independence was a hollow gesture for the African slaves and thus challenged the moral conscience of white America, urging them to confront the moral depravity and injustice of the institution of slavery.

Douglass began by acknowledging the significance and achievements of the American Revolution, praising the architects of the American republic for their commitment to the cause of liberty and justice. However, he quickly shifted his focus to highlight the stark contrast between the ideals professed and captured in the preamble of the American constitution -“we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal…” in the one, and in the other, the horrid condition experienced by the enslaved African people. In that speech, Douglass draws heavily and eloquently from the Bible, the American Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence to reveal the contradictions and ironies inherent in the American society.

It is in that sense, that we as Nigerians must reflect on Frederick Douglass’ powerful words and draw parallels from that knowledge and experience with a view to inspire us to critically examine the significance of Nigeria’s independence. Although Nigeria’s independence from colonial rule on October, 1, 1960 marked a pivotal moment in our history however, it also revealed the complexities and challenges that accompany self-rule 63 years down the line.

Like Douglass, who highlighted the stark contrast between the ideals of liberty and the reality of slavery in America, we must also interrogate and understand the overreaching implications of independence for Nigerians.

Independence should not just be about political freedom or self-rule, but entails also, the responsibility to harness our God given potentials-both human and natural in order to live up to the promise of a free and prosperous nation. This would mean, tackling poverty, misery, unemployment, inequality, illiteracy, insecurity, corruption and ethno-religious tension that persist within the Nigerian society.

Similar to Douglass’ call for justice and equality for all Americans, it is crucial to recognize the fact that true independence encompasses freedom from man-made hardship and suffering, systemic oppression and other forms of insecurity.

Frederick Douglass believed that the Fourth of July should be a time for reflection and self-assessment, urging Americans to confront the hypocrisy of celebrating freedom while denying it to a significant portion of the population. In the same vein, Nigeria’s Independence Day should prompt us to critically examine the discrepancies between the nation’s founding principles and the troubling reality of a vast majority of Nigerians today. By every conceivable standard, Nigeria is a deeply troubled nation.

We therefore must engage in introspection and ask ourselves challenging questions: Are we truly living up to the ideals of a united, prosperous, and just nation? Are all Nigerians able to fully enjoy the benefits of independence, irrespective of their social class, religious and ethnic background? How can we genuinely address the governance deficit and put an end to the failure of successive administrations with a view to better the social and economic conditions of all citizens in Nigeria? Do we really deserve the kind of leadership foisted on us for decades? Must Nigerians continue to adjust and readjust in order to survive under the grip of a highly perfidious elite operating an economic and political system that thrives on injustice and corruption?

Think about it!

Joelengs
01.10.2023.

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